Human Remains Found in 1974 Identified as Teenage Girl Reported Missing in 1972

The remains found in 1974 were recently identified as belonging to Florida teen Susan Poole, who went missing two years prior.

A teenage girl whose body was found almost 50 years ago in Florida has been identified, according to Palm Beach County authorities.

Thanks to DNA technology, the young woman has been identified as Susan Poole, according to a recent press conference.

According to Palm Beach County Sheriff's Detective William Springer, Poole, 15, had been reported missing in 1972 by her family, shortly before Christmas. 

Poole had recently dropped out of high school and had been living both with her family in a trailer park and her friend in an apartment nearby, according to authorities.

"Nobody knew where she went," Springer said. He added that Poole’s clothes and purse were left at her friend's apartment.

Over two years later in 1974, human remains were found in a remote location in Palm Beach County, according to CBS.

"She was tied up in the mangroves with wire to a tree," Springer said at the conference.

"She was skeletal remains, totally nothing left of her except bones."

Springer said that because detectives did not have the DNA technology that is now readily available, the case turned cold.

Investigators attempted to submit DNA to a national missing persons’ database in 2015, but initially found no results, according to the outlet. 

In 2021, Othram — a Texas-based forensics lab that builds DNA profiles using genealogy — contacted the sheriff's office last December to help solve the cold case, according to CBS News. 

According to Springer, in March of 2022, Othram gave the names of Poole’s mother and siblings, and authorities then provided a matching DNA sample from Poole's mother.

Detectives believe she may have been murdered by serial killer Gerard Schaefer, an ex-police officer, due to the similar manner that Schafer’s other victims were slain. 

Schaefer was a deputy with the Martin County Sheriff's Office at the time Poole disappeared, according to Springer.

The serial killer had been found guilty of murdering two other teenage girls, whose mutilated and decapitated remains were found in 1973 in Martin County, according to the CBS.

Authorities say Schaefer was implicated in upwards of 30 deaths. The tree where Schaefer allegedly tortured and killed his victims is known in Florida as the "Devil Tree,” according to CBS.

According to the outlet, Robert Stone, who prosecuted Schaefer, called him, "the most sexually deviant person I had ever seen. He made Ted Bundy look like a Boy Scout.”

He was sentenced to life in prison but was fatally stabbed by a fellow inmate at the Florida State Prison in 1995, according to CBS News.

The police department asked for assistance from the community in a recent statement. “Susan’s mother is still alive and all we need is a lead. Who could have committed this heinous crime?” the post read.

Springer is asking to speak to Poole’s previous friends Julie Hunt, Michelle Williamson, and Greg Anderson. 

“These three could help us find the missing piece and give her family closure,” the statement read.

Detectives are urging anyone with information to reach out to Detective Springer. If those with information would like to remain anonymous, authorities suggested calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.

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